December 28, 2012 by Jennifer 21 Comments During our recent trip to Vegas we learned there are many free activities to do on and off the Strip. I know my husband liked the Sirens of TI show which is free in front of the Treasure Island property. When you're a Las Vegas local, the clanging of slot machines in the McCarran Airport arrivals area signals you're home, but for everyone else it's a reminder that the city is engineered to liberate you from your dollars from the moment you land.
Andrea Bennett is the Editor in Chief of Vegas Magazine, and covers the Las Vegas beat for Travel + Leisure.
Mirage Volcano-Known as an iconic strip feature, the redesigned volcano features more fireworks and state-of-the-art sound system. KC Twins Dueling Pianos-A fun-filled, wacky laugh fest karaoke party at the Piano Bar.
Fountains of Bellagio-Featuring amazing musical and water displays, this spot is a must-stop for anyone walking the Strip. CBS Television City-The research center gives visitors the chance to be a part of the network’s decision-making by viewing and rating pilot shows. Sirens of Treasure Island-Sexy sirens battle a band of renegade pirates in Siren’s Cove at Treasure Island. Fall of Atlantis Show-Visit the lost world of Atlantis, via a captivating display of fire and special effects. Circus Circus Midway-Experience the world’s largest permanent circus, highlighting the center stage at the Carnival Midway.
Lake of Dreams-The show includes a animatronic singing frog, dancing spheres, giant flowers, and more. The CityCenter Fine Art Collection-A major collection of fine art, featuring 15 internationally renowned artists like Maya Lin, Frank Stella, Henry Moore and others. Fremont Street Experience-A seven block open-air mall with live entertainment and Viva Vision-the largest tv screen on the planet. It seems like every time I go to Vegas, I just end up spending a bunch of money and coming home wondering where it went! Surprisingly, though, there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself free-of-charge in Las Vegas. You can't actually join Cirque du Soleil—which currently has a mind-bending eight resident shows on the Strip—unless you can turn yourself into a pretzel or swing from vertiginous heights aided only by a few pieces of silk.


As you might expect, the largest gold nugget in the world is right here in Las Vegas—at The Golden Nugget. Local chocolatier Ethel M sits right in one of the largest botanical cactus gardens in the world, and you can take factory tours (free samples!) after a stroll of the unusual gardens.
Right across the street, Hershey's Chocolate World has opened in New York-New York, a two-story flagship featuring an 800-pound chocolate Statue of Liberty.
Incredible public artworks on the 67-acre CityCenter campus include 15 works by artists such as Nancy Rubin, Claes Oldernburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
Within Crystals, CityCenter's high-end mall, light artist James Turrell has installed Shards of Color—four recessed geometric shapes lit in neon. But the best secret in Crystals is Turrell's Akhob—an enormous permanent installation inside the Louis Vuitton Maison flagship. P3 Studio has hosted artists from Fab 5 Freddy to Shelter Serra, who work there for several weeks; passersby can wander in and often take part in an interactive art piece. At Wynn Las Vegas, look for the 7-foot-tall, 2,000-pound Popeye sculpture by Jeff Koons right on the shopping esplanade that Steve Wynn purchased for $28 million, and the giant, mirror-polished stainless steel Tulips (Jeff Koons, $34 million) that sits outside the Wynn Theater.
This fall, Rick Harrison opens a kingdom for his devoted followers in the form of Pawn Plaza, a giant shopping center made out of shipping containers with retail and restaurant tenants like a barbecue joint, tavern, Italian ice place, and a poutinerie. You could visit one of the many small wedding chapels around Downtown Las Vegas, or you could hold your dream nuptials at Denny's, on Fremont Street.
Kidding—you'll never drink for free in Las Vegas, despite the fact that drinks are complimentary on most casino floors. The 9-foot-tall chrome Lucky Cat at the Cosmopolitan dispenses fortunes free to those who put their hand on his paw. You'll inevitably end up at the Fountains of Bellagio, which recently added a three-song electronic medley by Tiesto to its lineup of Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Tony Bennett. But some of the best gawking in Las Vegas happens inside the Bellagio's 14,000-square-foot, skylit conservatory, where 120 horticulturalists, engineers and designers create incredible displays for each season, plus Chinese New Year, with more than 10,000 flowers, which are switched out every two weeks.
Similarly, the waterfall atrium at Palazzo, with a two-floor waterfall and seasonal flowers, is a great place to experience imagineered nature, at the entrance of the Grand Canal Shoppes. Starting next year, when The Park and other urban oases open on the Strip, it will become one of the best pedestrian zones in the world. Don't miss the massive new Swarovski Starburst, a 14-foot LED-lit crystal starburst that lights up the shops at night.


Nearby you can stroll along the new LINQ entertainment corridor, which runs perpendicular to the Strip, all the way to the High Roller.
Don't miss The Polaroid Fotobar, one of the best free hidden gems in Las Vegas—a museum open until 2 a.m. On the south end of the Strip, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, a symbol of excess once perched on a perilous median, is now solar powered and has plenty of convenient parking.
There's the spewing volcano in front of the Mirage—now with flame shooters, a soundtrack, and water and lighting effects.
Check out the Downtown Container Park, a retail, dining and play park made entirely of shipping containers (look for the 55-foot-tall fire breathing praying mantis outside). Make sure you stay until it's dark to do a self-guided tour of the Fremont East Entertainment District, whose refurbished vintage neon lights include the famous horseback rider from the Hacienda Hotel, a red slipper and a martini glass—and the newest addition: a new neon sign of a 30-foot-tall Pabst Blue Ribbon. You’ll also find swans, ducks, koi, and turtles admidst islands and streams surrounded by waterfalls. Rides aren't cheap, but you can watch death-defying stunts by unicyclists and acrobats high above the casino floor at no charge every half hour. Bonus: In November, they string the cactus with a half-million holiday lights, which stay up until New Year's Day. Don't miss M&M's World, a four-floor chocoholic's haven, with a free 3-D movie starring Red and Yellow.
Warning: Both places are free to enter, but you likely won't get out without a purchase, unless you have tremendous willpower.
Splurge for the $95 wedding in the wedding chapel the around-the-clock pancake house has conveniently installed (it comes with a cake made of pancakes), or just gawk at it with your family between the hours of 4 p.m. Inside the Forum Shops at Caesars, the newly revamped Fall of Atlantis show's giant talking statues and pyrotechnics are fun to watch, but the nearby 50,000-gallon aquarium is even better.
Find the free entertainment calendar, including a new outdoor family movie series, on the park's website. The open-air Grand Bazaar Shops has opened across the street from Bellagio, mashing up the outdoor dining and retail concepts from Seattle to Marrakesh.



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